A well-planned marketing strategy goes beyond setting up a functional website and sending out postcards a few times a year. Research shows that trust is crucial in the financial advisor-client relationship. Elite advisors who attract the highest net worth clients employ creative tactics that focus on building relationships that foster trust. Consider expanding your marketing efforts to include these tactics:
Find Your Niche
Research and coaching firm CEG Worldwide estimates 70% of top financial advisors (those earning $1 million or more annually) focus on a particular niche market of clients, primarily in order to differentiate themselves in a competitive environment. How do you focus in on who to serve? Define your goals and understand who your ideal clients are. In addition to setting financial guidelines, consider if you can narrow your niche. Perhaps you live in an area where there are a number of firms with high-level executives in manufacturing. Another angle is to look at your current clientele. For example, if you service a number of individuals in the medical field or you have a knack for relating to millennials, focus on attracting more clients within that niche as you build your marketing strategy. Be flexible and open to providing your services to anyone who may be a good fit, but start with what you know best.
High net worth clients are accustomed to convenience and concierge service. The ability to offer a network of reliable professionals adds value for your client. An advisor who has a professional team of CPAs, attorneys, insurance agents and accountants to draw from will be able to offer their clients a higher quality and more integrated level of service. This comprehensive approach to wealth management will set you apart. Not only is it important to develop deeper relationships with your clients, forging relationships with other financial service professionals in your community will serve your clients well. In turn, the opportunity of cross referrals can drive growth for all business partners involved.
These relationships can be informal but if you are looking to get serious about growing your high net worth niche, it may be worth having formalized discussions with those you want a solid alliance with in order to pursue your collective goals. This doesn’t happen overnight and there must be value in this for those you wish to add to your team. Offer yourself as a source of research and assistance in your area of expertise. Be brave enough to share your knowledge and to connect other professionals with each other to enhance each other’s businesses. This build bonds and trust that will serve as the foundation of your alliance.
You may need to educate yourself on alternate ways that the wealthy wish to invest that are not traditional stocks and bonds. ADISA is an association of alternative investment sponsors that provides educational materials for financial advisors in quick 10-minute videos housed at the link referenced above. Of course, you’ll want to check your eligibility to offer alternative investments with your broker-dealer.
It is well worth your time to audit your client communications. Call upon a marketing professional or graphic designer to create a cohesive look for your digital and printed materials that reflect the upscale clientele you wish to attract. Be sure your materials are compliant and free from grammatical mistakes and typos.
For additional support, lean on your broker-dealer or clearing firm. They often have marketing programs that can be customized for you. You can also look into advisor marketing services like Broadridge Advisor Solutions, who offers Finra-reviewed newsletters, email programs, social posts and websites that are all integrated with your look and feel.
At a minimum you should know how often and in what channel your client prefers to communicate with you. Do they want a formal annual presentation? A quarterly phone call? A face-to-face meeting monthly? Does your client access their online account frequently? Do you have online mirroring so you can see what they see when they have questions about their data?
Armed with a clear client persona, alliance partners and quality communications, now it’s time to reach out and find the clients. A smart way to do this is to go where the wealthy go. Research by Wealth-X identifies sports, business, health and wellness, and finance among some of the favorite leisure activities of high net worth males, while philanthropic activities rank highest for high net worth females. Health and education tend to rank highest as favorite philanthropic choices for high net worth individuals. Get a membership to the country club. Sponsor, or volunteer for select charity events that attract the affluent in your area.
It would be wise not to fall into a stereotype trap. While these are guidelines based on overarching research, consider your specific community. Perhaps you live in an area where the culture is steeped in hunting and fishing. Spending time at the target range may serve you better in this case. Above all else, be sure you have an interest in the activities you pursue. People can spot it a mile away if your passion isn’t authentic.
Concierge Client Experience
One of the most impactful ways to build relationships is through face time. There are two key elements to make this a successful strategy.
First, really listen to your clients. Take notes and review those notes before any planned meetings. If your client has children, keep track of their ages and interests so you can ask how little Johnny’s baseball season is going. Does your client have a penchant for art or wine? Did they just get back from a vacation to the Caribbean? This may seem like no-brainer small talk but the most skilled advisors will keep track of these small details so they can capitalize on them later. By following up and asking about the personal events in their clients’ lives, advisors demonstrate their interest in treating each client as a person, not a dollar sign.
Secondly, create opportunities to spend time socially with your clients and their friends and family. This increases your chances of expanding your network and possibly form new client relationships. Whenever possible, find meaningful ways to connect with your high net worth clients. During gift giving season, in lieu of tangible gifts, opt for giving “experiences” where you have the valuable gift of time together. For the football fan, rent a party bus for his friends and family to attend an NFL or local college game. For the wine connoisseur, arrange for a small gathering at a local winery where your client is the guest of honor. These experiences demonstrate you have taken a personalized interest in your client. They also create memories and if executed successfully, will build your bond with your client.
Have you heard of the surprise birthday lunch? Here is how it works. Call the spouse of one of your best clients a week or two ahead of the spouse’s birthday. Tell him or her that you’d like to take them out for a special birthday lunch with two or three of his/her closest friends. The spouse will coordinate calendars, make the invites and you get to provide lunch to your client and one or two of their best friends. The friends will look at you as someone who is thoughtful and trusted by your clients. And your client will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
While it may be tempting to use these events as a time to pitch your services to others in attendance, refrain from doing so as much as possible. Establishing a relationship takes time. Avoid financial discussions unless your client or their guests bring them up first. People invariable ask each other their occupation, so having a short “elevator speech” is worth working on. Even at that, strive to keep it light during the social setting, then make a note to follow up afterwards.
Annual holiday or summer events are something that you can build into your marketing program. Choose one or two special events that you can build every year. Don’t box yourself into just the obvious holidays such as Christmas or New Years. Golf outings are fun but pretty common. Consider an annual special cocktail hour and private tour at a museum or even an annual charitable event where you can volunteer together with your clients and their families. Also, be on the alert to take advantage of special events that crop up in your area such as an aviation or sailing event that may be a one-time but special experience.
Finally, don’t skimp on measuring the outcome of your efforts. Take the time needed to reflect on your successes and areas for growth so you can determine what tactics work best for you and your clients. Be sure to seek feedback to learn what you do best and find what areas you can improve upon.
Feedback can, and should be, multi-faceted. A phone call or client meeting check-in where you ask the client how they feel about your service is extremely useful. This conversation should be relaxed and limited to 3 to 5 specific open-ended questions where the goal is to listen carefully to the client’s response. Too many questions will feel like an interrogation and could get uncomfortable. Too few, and you won’t receive much valuable insight. Center your questions around what is going well and what the client’s next goals are or what might be on their wish list for the future.
It may also be worth conducting an annual survey to your entire client-base so you can get an overall sense of how you’re doing servicing them. This can also help you identify any trends that may be emerging. For this, seeking out the services of a marketing professional would be worth the investment. Maybe your broker-dealer would be interested in doing a firm-wide survey that could establish benchmarks so that you have some measurement goals.
A final note
Depending on your workload and resources, start small. Pick one or two ideas and work to do them well versus trying to do too many things and missing details or falling short in the follow through department. Always keep in mind what your goal is whether that is to attract new clients, build relationships with current clients, a combination of this or something different. Ask yourself if the event or tactic you try is successful if it will move you closer to your goal. Give yourself the chance to try something different, learn from it and adjust accordingly.